Bureaucratic Inertia

Your average bureaucracy could not fight it’s way out of a wet paper bag…

It would be easy to interpret this idea as snarky satire but in all seriousness: the generative source of the overwhelming majority of humanity’s contemporary serious problems and that litany of existential disaster that looms large over us all is bureaucracy. So many purely self-interested fools; so much institutionalised and normalised ineptitude; so few people in positions of influence who are able to effect positive change due to the overwhelming inertia of the organisations and administrations in which they participate; so many (other) people in positions of influence who are completely incompetent; serial failures to acknowledge the true complexity of realities; unrelenting doubling down on failed, simplistic policies and strategies; HR selection mechanisms which privilege organisational continuity over effectiveness; lack of transparency.

There was probably once a historical moment where it was quite possible for this sum of all inefficiencies to muddle it’s way through the game of pretending to know what it was doing and at least resemble or simulate value, efficiency and effectiveness. This time has now long-since passed – the proliferating failures and incompetencies of our vast and lumbering bureaucracies, organisations and administrations has pretty much reached peak inertia. The peak here is that point beyond which, when confronted with rapidly accelerating cultural and technological change, the ability to pretend to be able to effectively manage situations and negotiate solutions is no longer actually even sensibly a position or pretence which is even plausible to simulate or present as an organisational self-representation.

Your average bureaucracy could not fight it’s way out of a wet paper bag. Bureaucracies do, however, excel at one specific thing: actively obfuscating, obscuring and wilfully manipulating self-representations in ways which seek to make themselves appear far better at their assigned tasks than they actually are.

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